Treating depression

Treatment for depression will usually involve a combination of self-help, talking therapies as well as medication.The treatment that will be recommended for you will be based on the type of depression you have.

Mild depression:

If you have mild depression, the following treatments could be recommended.

Wait and see

If your doctor diagnoses you with mild depression, they may suggest waiting a short period of time to see if it gets better on its own. You will then be seen again by your doctor after 2 weeks to monitor your progress. This is known as watchful waiting.


There’s evidence that exercise can help depression, and it’s 1 of the main treatments for mild depression. You may be referred to a group exercise class.


Talking through your feelings can be helpful. You could talk to a friend or relative, or you could ask your doctor whether there are and group therapy sessions in your area. You could also try self help books or online CBT.

Mild to moderate depression:

If you have mild to moderate depression which is not improving, or moderate depression, you could find a talking therapy helpful.There are different types of talking therapies for depression, including CBT and counselling.

Your doctor can refer you for talking treatment, or you can self refer directly to a psychological therapies service.

Moderate to severe depression:

If you have moderate to severe depression, the following treatments may be recommended.


Antidepressants are tablets that treat the symptoms of depression. There are almost 30 different types of antidepressant.They have to be prescribed by a doctor, usually for depression that’s moderate or severe.

Combination therapy

Your doctor may recommend that you take a course of antidepressants plus talking therapy, particularly if your depression is quite severe.A combination of an antidepressant and CBT will usually work better than having just 1 of these treatments.

Mental health teams

If you have severe depression, you may be referred to a mental health team made up of psychologists, psychiatrists, specialist nurses and occupational therapists.

These teams often provide intensive specialist talking treatments as well as prescribed medication. 

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